Neither regional president nor the Federal did not make calls for peaceful negotiation to resolve the problem in Amhara region
The Amhara regional state released a statement on Sunday highlighting the situation in the region. It came from the office of the regional president, who was appointed to the position after the Federal government declared a state of emergency in early August 2023.
While much of the statement talked about the relevance of peace as the foundation of development highlighting how the region suffered from the destruction of what it called the North War ( the war between the Federal Government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front -TPLF), it made a sort of confessions how “restoring peace” in the region has become challenging due to the ongoing conflict in the region.
“There cannot be a winner from the conflict within a nation. No party will be victorious except creating a generational vengeance,” it said. Furthermore, it said that “we are in a time when peace and unity are necessary for us as a country and as a region.”
Clearly, the regional administration – believed to be subordinated by the ethnic Oromo nationalists in the government structure, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – sees that security forces by themselves cannot restore peace in the region. It said, “Durable peace is not something that can be achieved through the government security structure… all people should protect peace in their locality and at the family level.” It went on to say “when that happens, it is possible to discipline,” those whom it sees as “opportunists who are operating in the name of Fano.”
It emphasized the role of people in the region, intellectuals, and political actors from the region to end the conflict. It also called on “citizens” to refrain from actions that could cause loss of lives, destruction, and displacement.
In essence, the statement reiterated the Ethiopian government’s (including the Defense Force) narrative in connection with the cause of the conflict in the Amhara region and the motive of the Fano movement as one that is after looting and enriching itself.”
It also accused Fano, without calling its name, of eroding the values of Amhara swearing in the name of the Amhara. It is said the group is causing the loss of civilian lives, looting public property, and killing innocent civilians.
Fano forces have noticeable popular support in the Amhara region and beyond – from tending activism on social media and also from local reports. Their stated aspiration to reverse the existential threat against ethnic Amhara has resonated very well among ethnic Amhara. Tens of thousands of ethnic Amhara civilians have been massacred in the Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz region of Ethiopia since Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in 2018.
The Amhara region was one of the areas where the ruling Prosperity Party garnered massive support – the basis of which was promised reform to restore security, peace, and unity.
Local media outlets have been reporting extensive massacres of civilians in the Amhara region since the war started in the region, sometime at least since June of this year. The United Nations Human Rights Body reported hundreds of civilian deaths since July this year. Some were killed in extrajudicial executions from house to house searches, others from drone strikes in different parts of the region, and still others from heavy weaponry shelling.
The Federal government declared a state of emergency with a stated intention to disarm Fano forces and “restore order” within a span of two weeks. However, the conflict is still ongoing, and FANO forces maintain control over much of the rural areas in the Amhara region. The latest information from local sources indicates that the Federal government is now deploying paratroopers in Dessie and its surrounding areas in the north.